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What are the Different Anxiety Disorders?

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  • Written By: J.Gunsch
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Anxiety disorders, also called panic disorders, are broadly defined as irrational fears of situations or particular objects marked by an intense physically or mentally debilitating response. Anxiety disorders often co-exist with other disorders, such as depression, mood disorders and drug or alcohol addiction. Anxiety disorders are considered maladaptive, which means that as far as we can tell, they serve no purpose as a survival or defense mechanism. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes seven anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress syndrome, social phobic disorder and specific phobic disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as excessive worrying about any number of things. A tongue in cheek attribute of people with generalized anxiety disorder is that they excessively worry about not having anything to worry about. Any situation, event, thought, word or object can produce anxiety. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include a feeling of being on edge, tense muscles, difficulty sleeping, an inability to focus, irritability and fatigue.

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Panic disorder is similar to generalized anxiety disorder, except that a panic episode is more intense and brief than episodes experienced by generalized anxiety disorder sufferers. Panic disorder is characterized by abrupt panic attacks that last under an hour. Panic attacks are a false activation of the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is the body’s natural physical reaction to fear. A person suffering from a panic attack will experience real physical symptoms of increased heart rate, numbness in the arms and legs and difficulty breathing. Often, people who suffer from panic attacks believe that they are having a heart attack.

Agoraphobia, another one of the anxiety disorders, can co-exist with panic disorder. An agoraphobic person fears travel in cars, buses, trains or planes, and fears public places or particular situations. The severity of agoraphobia varies among individual sufferers, but it can become very debilitating. Sometimes, agoraphobia can become so severe that a person will refuse to leave his or her home. Sufferers of agoraphobia generally fear that they will have a panic disorder or become ill in public and begin to eliminate any and all activities that they believe might provoke a panic attack.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the anxiety disorders that incorporates anxiety with behavioral components. OCD is characterized by unwanted, uncontrollable thoughts that persistently recur, which are termed obsessions. These obsessions are accompanied by irrational behaviors, which are called compulsions. A person with OCD tries to negate or control his or her obsessive thoughts with compulsive behaviors such as frequent hand washing, turning lights on and off, repeating a specific word a certain number of times, ordering, organizing and so on. OCD often occurs along with other forms of anxiety disorders, especially generalized anxiety and panic disorder.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic event in a person’s life, such as witnessing a terrible accident, natural disaster, abuse or war. A person with PTSD frequently re-experiences the traumatic event, which induces fear and anxiety. This can lead to avoidance of situations, panic attacks, general uneasiness, depression and withdrawal.

Social phobia and specific phobia are two closely related anxiety disorders that invoke intense fear. Social phobia is characterized by an irrational fear of social situations and interactions with other people. Usually, a person with social phobia is disproportionately afraid of how he or she will act in the company of others. Those with social phobia suffer from a fear of embarrassing or humiliating themselves, rather than a fear of other people causing them harm.

Specific phobia is marked by an exaggerated fear of animals or objects. A person with specific phobia might be horrified by a spider, a dog or a bird, or may be frightened by heights, water or the dark. Although many people are uneasy about specific objects or become nervous around other people, true phobias are debilitating to the point of affecting a person’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.

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SauteePan
Post 6

BrickBack- I wanted to say that Anxiety disorder symptoms usually involve a racing heartbeat, nervousness in the stomach, and sweaty palms.

Usually anxiety disorder treatment involves medication and the combination of cognitive therapy or exposure therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves determining what actions in what situations cause the anxiety and how to better deal with the situation in the future.

Exposure therapy works differently. It really puts the person in direct contact with the fearful stimuli. This progressive therapy exposes the patient to the same stimuli over and over again to where eventually it does not have an effect.

BrickBack
Post 5

Sneakers41- That's a really good question and I will answer that for you. Children like adults can suffer from a variety of different forms of anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder really is when the child anticipates the absolute worst outcomes in all situations. Usually these children live very stressful lives but there could also be a hereditary component to the disorder.

A common panic anxiety disorder among children is the social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder starts manifesting itself by each 13.

This disorder causes extreme fear of public embarrassment which leads to excessive shyness and isolation. Sometimes children or even adults with this disorder practice selective mutism.

This is when they choose not to speak because they are afraid of making a mistake and embarrassing themselves. This anxiety disorder in children results in increased sadness and loneliness.

sneakers41
Post 4

SurfNturf- What I like to know is, what are some types of childhood anxiety disorders are and what causes them?

surfNturf
Post 3

Comfyshoes- I also want to add that exposure therapy is very effective in treating anxiety disorders.

Those with chronic anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or phobias really benefit from this therapeutic method.

With exposure therapy, the patient is exposed to the very objects or situation that they are the most afraid of.

Over time this lessens the impact that the object or situation has and helps the patient deal more effectively when faced with the stimuli.

For example, if a person has a phobia of spiders, with this therapy, the patient would probably start by touching the spider. After a few therapy sessions the patient may have to hold the spider. The exposure increases until the patient no longer fears the object or situation.

comfyshoes
Post 2

Fevangelism- What an inspirational story, I am glad that you finally have anxiety disorder help. I wanted to add that the Anxiety Disorders Association of America suggests several forms of therapy treatment for its patients.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common anxiety disorder therapy used. Cognitive behavioral therapy causes the patient to understand the patterns of behavior and change their thought process in order to change the behavior. This is a form of behavioral modification.

fevangelism
Post 1

I suffered from extreme anxiety, panic attacks and OCD for years. I was in fear all the time. I hated it. I would listen to Anthony Robbins tapes, try breathing exercises and so on but none of it worked. All temporary.

Please hear me because I have been in your shoes. Jesus was the only one who completely set me free from all of this. No pills, doctors. Jesus Himself.

I didn't believe in God before and when I did it wasn't real. I didn't let Him take over my life. But when I came to a point of extreme and utter desperation I called out to Him in January 2005 and I asked Him to take my life, to

take over. Whatever life He had for me had to be better than the one I had.

You can truly be set free and be given a brand new life. I never knew it was possible. I have been completely set free from all of this and so much more.

No matter how long you have suffered or how "far gone" you think you may be. I thought the same thing before. You don't have to live another moment like this. You can really be set free and live. I am living proof.

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